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Beyond Nation-Centrism: Thinking International Communication from a Cosmopolitan Perspective

Chalaby, J. (2007). Beyond Nation-Centrism: Thinking International Communication from a Cosmopolitan Perspective. Studies in Communication Sciences – Journal of the Swiss Association of Communication and Media Research, 7(1), pp. 61-83.


This article begins with a historical overview of international communication and an evaluation of the successive paradigms that have dominated the discipline: modernization theory in the 1950s and 1960s, cultural imperialism in the following two decades and, more recently, the globalization paradigm. It examines the impact of the economic and the political factors on the discipline, focusing on the overwhelming influence of the Cold War. It is argued that the conflict locked the discipline into a national perspective that began to be deconstructed only when the structure of international relations changed in the 1990s. Today, it is apparent that a nation-centric discourse cannot comprehend contemporary trends in international communication, and it is suggested that the discipline adopts Ulrich Beck’s cosmopolitan methodology in order to ascertain its epistemological shift towards a postnational perspective.

In the second part, this article applies the cosmopolitan methodology to the understanding of contemporary international communication flows.It is argued that globalization and technology are remapping media spaces, shaping new media practices and products and contributing to the emergence of a transnational media order. This order is analysed through four key features that characterize it: transnationalization (the intensification of trans-border
media flows), individualization (users’ growing access to international communication tools), deterritorialization (the disconnection between place and culture) and cosmopolitization (the changing relationship between the local and the global. It is contended that these new media spaces and processes are not only transforming international communication, but also national media
systems from within and reshaping them with transnational connectivity.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: cosmopolitization, globalization, international communication, Internet, new media, transnational television
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
SWORD Depositor:
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